Here is your open thread to talk about all things Saturday, October 6th, General Conference. Of course, perhaps the only thing is the two-hour block.
Rumored for well over 20 years, this has finally, finally happened. I'm kind of overjoyed. Your thoughts?
What did you think of the General Women's Session? Rebranding (yes, it is)? All the controversy? Social media fast (nope)?
I’m excited for the change! I have read several times over the last week that the changes we had last April were just a snowflake in a snowstorm compared to what *will* happen. So, first session did not disappoint! I like the emphasis on the home for spiritual learning, supported by activities at church. I *love* that Elder Bednar said that the church programs and activities are not an end in themselves—they are just supporting the ultimate goal of having a closer relationship with Christ.
I’m with you, Jenny! Nice start.
Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Two Tiny Gender Changes You Might Not Have Noticed at the March-April 2018 General Conference
Alison, I clicked on the link to read your previous post, and it was about having more female speakers than ever last time. How do you feel about the balance this time?
I am on the zero-hour block schedule for church and the zero-session schedule for watching conference, so I didn’t see it myself, but I am hearing that there were few female speakers, and that half the speakers at the Women’s session were men. I also hear that Russell Nelson said “we need your voices” to the women, while not scheduling time in Conference to hear women’s voices. Sad.
Katie, you are right. There was ONE female speaker in all four general sessions. And, as you heard, for the first time (that I can recall) half the speakers in the WOMEN’s SESSION were men. I was sincerely so sad and it was my least favorite women’s meeting/session that I can recall in my entire life. The entire conference was difficult for me, but most particularly because of the utter domination—per usual—of men. All while leaders demand gender distinction. There is such an ENORMOUS blind spot on this issue that could be SO easily rectified.
IF the priesthood session in April has the same structure, I’ll be thrilled, but…that’s not going to happen.
It’s a really odd situation. YES, the prophet said women’s voices are needed—and yet there seems to be a collective lack of connection between the CLAIM and the utter lack of provision to actually hear those voices. In some ways—and I actually think this is a generous read of that, not a snarky one—I chalk this up to generational blindness, to thinking that TALKING about how important women are, putting women on VERBAL pedestals, is what actually makes us valued, rather than allowing us the opportunity to actually speak, actual DO things, etc.
To me, it’s so starkly obvious that I cannot fathom how it isn’t seen, but I do think it is not. I say that mostly because I can look at MYSELF over the past decades and see how much I simply accepted and/or didn’t notice…until I did. And, as my husband said, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Even if you never saw it before.”
Here’s the thing, I actually think that the FP and GAs think that be all showing up and all speaking at the women’s session, they give it more authority and credence. And some people think it did that, kind of like, “Look at all the attention our leaders gave us!!! They think we MATTER!” I think it undermines women. I think it says, “You aren’t really legit unless men speak to you.”
What I would have LOVED is if they all CAME and all LISTENED to what female leaders had to say. We hear from the FP ALL THE TIME, I don’t feel the need to hear them AGAIN in multiple sessions. But if they “need” to speak, let a woman keynote our own meeting, for ONCE!
And if you need to hear women’s voices, invite them to the priesthood session! How can you make such sweeping claims about GENDER DISTINCTION but not see that MEN need to hear from WOMEN, too?
I think we will never be the best church we can be until women have equal VOICE with men, not just verbal praise that isn’t supported by action. I do NOT need to be stroked, I need to have my thoughts, opinions, and action valued.
Alison Moore Smith recently posted…My Definition of God and a Possible Response to Homosexuality in Church Policy
It is insanely easy for us all to embrace the new two-hour block. Hey, it’s cool and convenient especially for we ADHD folk, seniors, and small child-herders. Yep, that’s an easy revelation to embrace. So what about other inspired guidance (hint: recent revelation regarding our church’s name)?
One thought has permeated my thinking lately regarding our church. Our prophetic guidance comes as needed, sometimes as correction, chastisement or responding to problems that arise. Yes, there are always issues that need attention, and our all-too-human leaders often overlook issues until they cannot be ignored and they then ask of the Lord for guidance. The Lord chastises our leaders as well, though we don’t often hear about that.
Yet, I have become more sensitive to voices of bald skepticism, denigration, and outright defiance and fault-finding from my fellow active members. That used to be the bailiwick of only angry former and anti-Mormons who put way too much effort in trying to degrade others’ testimonies. I spent two hours yesterday talking about the gospel with a sweet college-age neighbor who has been seriously weakened by these things, often from other active Saints, and is seriously suffering and depressed. She cites exaggerated or non-existent ‘statistics’ that pervade current emotion-based arguments, draws conclusions based on distortion, you get the picture. She now believes that going to see her Bishop for help will be negative. How does this happen among us, the ‘faithful?’
All this discussion clouds a fundamental difference between the Church of Jesus Christ and other Christian denominations. We are not at the mercy of an oppressive yet bumbling Patriarchy. We are, quite literally, expected to be seers and prophets filled with wisdom gained personally.
Our other-denomination Christian friends often cite teachings from their beloved and charismatic Pastors for inspiration. The Pastor teaches and inspires using the philosophies of men (good stuff to be sure) mingled with scripture. But they tell their flock what they should believe and provide sweet guidance. But is often personality-based and dependent on a pastor they like. They are fed the gospel and encouraged to only believe. When they are challenged on something in real life, they fall back on what their Pastor says. Or if they don’t like what their Pastor teaches, they move on to another congregation. And it happens a lot.
But in our world, everything is based on learning and teaching ourselves. The Lord (and the church) says, “Here are the scriptures. Study for yourselves. Learn for yourselves, with the help of teachers and ministers, and lead others.”
We have some charismatic leaders, but they again only point to the Lord, finding out for ourselves, and using our agency wisely. When we get a new prophet or apostle, we are encouraged to pray and gain our own witness of the calling. When we do , we can believe that his words come from God. We should then give him the benefit of the doubt, not blindly follow. Believe his words until we learn for ourselves.
So we ask: this new church name correction that President Nelson gave us–is it from God’s mouth or is it merely temporal or capricious? I think we learned that answer in conference, because he had to forcefully reiterate it due to our own skepticism and doubt. We didn’t do our part in the revelatory process. Kind of a new phenomenon, really. Now it is our responsibility to repent, pray and take ownership.
As for me, I now stand chastised. I pledge to try to believe and accept pending my own revelation and study.
“She now believes that going to see her Bishop for help will be negative. How does this happen among us, the ‘faithful?’”
Because of so many leaders over so many congregations over so many decades who taught shame. Growing up, the biggest lesson my mom wanted me to learn was that you can always repent. Nothing is too big to repent of. You always have value no matter what you have done. Guess what I learned? SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME.
I can’t identify why or from where I learned so much shame. But I was literally convinced that I would be excommunicated every time I talked to the bishop about a problem, starting as a small child. Despite my mom’s INSISTENCE on teaching me the opposite, I learned shame.
Despite the shame and guilt and fear, I was a rule-follower. So I would go see the bishop, and every time, I was sure I was going to be excommunicated. I never was punished at all, but the fear never left me. I would LOVE to see bishop’s interviews eliminated entirely.
(Just so you can be certain to understand the context, here are the things I remembering being certain I would be excommunicated for: fighting with my sister as a young child, kissing a boy when I was 18, “letting” my boyfriend touch my breast while I was sleeping [I obviously didn’t understand consent back then], French kissing/making out with a boy in college, letting my fiancé touch my thigh, and sleeping in a different room than my fiancé at his apartment while I was a BYU student.)
Maybe I’m just deficient. That’s another message I heard my whole life from the church – if I don’t get the answer they say I should get, I have done something wrong. Not enough faith. Not enough real intent. Not enough purity. Not enough perfection. It always came back to a defect in me. So I’m sure that my experience of internalizing shame is another defect in me. /s
“We are not at the mercy of an oppressive yet bumbling Patriarchy. We are, quite literally, expected to be seers and prophets filled with wisdom gained personally.”
Is this satire?
I thought you were talking about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Brighamite branch of the LDS church. But you must be talking about a different church, **or you’re a man**, because my experience in the LDS church is definitely characterized by being at the mercy of an oppressive, bumbling patriarchy.
For example, my own prophetic wisdom and revelation taught me that women are not going to be priestesses to men and should not hearken to men without reciprocal covenants from the men. (This is one of two things that I can say I received a testimony of.) Yet it doesn’t matter what revelation I received. The temple still says what it says, and it means what it says. You’re supposed to believe it and support it if you want to be a faithful member in good standing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve received revelation to the contrary.
My mom has faithfully served in countless ward and stake presidencies my whole life. She has SO many stories of oppressive, bumbling patriarchy messing things up. She never told me any of this until very recently, but it’s been happening to her for decades. Being deficient as I described above, I haven’t served in any adult presidencies, so I will have to take her word for it. Other non-deficient women report similar things.
If I had received a revelation that my spiritual gifts include administration of the physical affairs of the church, or of the spiritual ordinances of the church, too dang bad. I still can’t bless my baby in church, baptize my kid, or pass the sacrament in the chapel. So I fail to see how your assertion about personal wisdom has any meaning whatsoever in the actual LDS Church.
“The Pastor teaches and inspires using the philosophies of men (good stuff to be sure) mingled with scripture. But they tell their flock what they should believe and provide sweet guidance. But is often personality-based”
Again, I’m now legitimately confused if you are being satirical or serious. This 100% describes the LDS church. Conference talks, manuals, Sacrament talks, Sunday School and RS lessons, Church magazines, and literally every other publication and interaction in the Church are ABSOLUTELY the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Yes, some rare speakers and teachers focus ONLY on the doctrine. But I would say the vast majority do not. I am sincerely baffled about how you have experienced anything different in the church.
It’s not just local members going rogue. You can’t review the topics that each apostle has focused on over the decades and tell me that’s not personality based. It obviously is. And once that personality passes away, the pet doctrine that was focused on so heavily is often left alone. If you need examples, look at anything that was said on race from the 1940s to the 1970s. Look at the 1982 First Presidency letter on unholy and impure acts within marriage. Look at Oaks’ current insistence on focusing on certain topics, while other apostles have never spoken a word on the same topic. True doctrine is taught by many/most of the apostles and prophets. There are so many other pet topics that are focused on by only a few apostles.
“So we ask: this new church name correction that President Nelson gave us–is it from God’s mouth or is it merely temporal or capricious?”
It is obviously temporal and capricious. Worse, it looks like the outcome of a 30-year grudge. The only alternative is that you must believe that previous prophets were led by Satan, or at least were not led by Christ. I don’t believe I am being extreme here. That is the only conclusion I see being possible. If President Nelson is correct, the other prophets were misled. Maybe now that the Conference transcripts are out, they’ll have changed what he said to make that conclusion not be required.
Interestingly, while I was Mormon, I NEVER used the word Mormon. I was well aware of the prophets and apostles over the years who had asked us not to use it, and I took that extremely seriously. I was very troubled by other members who ignored that counsel. By the time the “I’m a Mormon” campaign came out, I wasn’t so uptight, so that didn’t really shake me, but I still never used the word myself. I’ve happily reclaimed it now as a descriptor of my heritage and culture.
Disclaimer: You can disregard everything I say, because I consider myself more ‘Exmo’ than ‘Mo.’ Or you can learn from one who desperately tried to follow every rule and stay in the church as long as I could.
Those are some great, thoughtful points. You’re very generous to the Q15. The most thought I put into it was “Hmm, guess they still suck,” and I’ve assumed their motives are bad.
You said “To me, it’s so starkly obvious that I cannot fathom how it isn’t seen, but I do think it is not. I say that mostly because I can look at MYSELF over the past decades and see how much I simply accepted and/or didn’t notice…until I did.”
That’s a great point. Like you, I was very blind to things for years. I never consciously noticed that women hadn’t prayed in Conference. I never thought about temple wording being different for men and women. I remember *noticing* it, because my first time through the temple, I asked my mom how the wording was different for her when she goes to the temple (because my dad is not an active member). She said it was the same for everyone. I thought “Hm, weird” and that’s as far as I let it get into my brain.
Like you said, once these things were pointed out to me, I can’t unsee them. I would think that the Q15 *MUST* have had these things pointed out to them, ad nauseam. We know that Chieko Okazaki said she would’ve liked to be included in writing the Proclamation on the Family in the 1990s. Did she never tell them that? Are they so insulated that they honestly aren’t aware of these issues? Or are they aware but they truly think that it’s only an “angry feminist” problem?
The other issue is that if someone is assuming the motives of the Q15 and all past leaders are good, they may see the problems, but they can justify them away and say “it must be this way for a reason” or “it’s not actually the way it seems” or “it doesn’t mean what it says.” On the other hand, whereas I ascribe bad motives to them, I see all these things from an opposite perspective. Both are probably extreme.
“Here’s the thing, I actually think that the FP and GAs think that be all showing up and all speaking at the women’s session, they give it more authority and credence.”
That’s very interesting. As someone who tries to avoid following authorities simply because they’re authorities, this never occurred to me. But I can definitely see how others might approach it this way.